Ultrasound technicians, also referred to as ultrasound technologists or diagnostic medical sonographers, play an essential role in the healthcare field, especially in regards to patient diagnosis and treatment. Ultrasound technicians operate specialized imaging equipment to create internal images of the body. Due to the technical nature of these positions, technicians in North Carolina must undergo specialized training and certification to qualify for and secure jobs in the field.
Ultrasound technicians have a specific set of tasks that they are legally allowed to perform in North Caroline. Generally, technicians use a transducer device to generate high frequency sound waves into the tissues of a patient. While some sound waves pass completely through the body, others reflect back to the device, producing a live image of the soft tissues and internal structures of the body. Physicians can review these images to examine or diagnose the imaged patient. In general technicians are only involved in running imaging equipment, not providing diagnosis based on the results, though they may confer with physicians as to what additional imaging may need to be performed. They’re also allowed to answer questions or concerns asked by patients regarding what the ultrasound procedure involves, as well as any questions outside of diagnosis a patient has during the procedure.
Those looking at becoming an ultrasound technician typically first complete a program in medical sonography. Several community colleges and technical schools throughout North Carolina offer programs in Medical sonography. These programs typically take at least two years to complete, sometimes more depending on how long it takes to finish any prerequisite courses necessary to be admitted into the program. Education typically covers subjects such as anatomy and physiology, physics, sonography topics, use of equipment and clinical education. Programs generally require at least 60 semester credits or 84 quarter credits, and traditionally involve some form of clinical internship/externship.
After completing a program in medical sonography, ultrasound technician candidates sit for a certification exam, typically through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Students generally take the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) exam along with a corresponding specialty exam. Specialty exams can include abdomen, breast, fetal echocardiography, neurosonology, or obstetrics and gynecology. In order to take the exam, students must submit an official transcript or copy of a diploma from their program and a signed letter from the director of the program stating that they’ve graduated or completed the program successfully. Once the exam is passed, technicians will be credentialed as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, qualifying them to apply for ultrasound technician positions.
Ultrasound Technician Salary in North Carolina
The median salary for ultrasound technicians in North Carolina is $62,120, compared to the nationwide median of $60,350 per year. Nationally, the bottom five percent of technicians had salaries less than $44,990, with the top five percent making greater than $91,070 per year. Salaries in North Carolina vary widely depending on factor such as years of experience, education background, county worked in and the type and size of the company worked for. Many organizations that hire ultrasound technicians also provide benefits packages, such as health insurance and retirement programs.
Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer must renew their credentials every three years. In order to renew, technicians must complete at least 30 continuing medical education (CME) credits. A list of approved credit sources can be found on the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers’ website.
A job as an ultrasound technician in North Carolina is not only personally rewarding through helping heal those in need, it’s also financially rewarding. With opportunities in the field expected to grow by 39 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to estimates by the United States Department of Labor, training for an ultrasound technician position will provide job security for years to come.